Jason Harris
Creator & Host, Jew Oughta Know

In The Valley of Hell, Where We Sacrifice Our Children

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The United States is one of the few remaining cultures that regularly practices child sacrifice. Such a gruesome blasphemy might seem a dark relic of the ancient past, but the ritual is very much ongoing here in our country.

In ancient times a society might sacrifice a child on top of a mountain altar to please the gods to bring life-giving rain. Here in the US, we sacrifice children on the altar of the gun so the God of Freedom and Liberty will bestow its pleasure on our nation (in our rational wisdom having long ago realized that there is no connection between executing children and the vagaries of the weather). This is the tradeoff we make: appease the Gunlord with the murdered souls of helpless children, and enjoy protection from our supposedly-tyrannical democratic government.

Many ancient cultures, from the Near East to the Andes, practiced child sacrifice to beseech the deity to favor their nation. But in the biblical account, we find an unequivocal condemnation of King Manasseh of Judea, perhaps the worst of all Israelite kings, for this very thing. “He did what was displeasing to the Lord,” writes the author of 2 Kings, for “he consigned his son to the fire,” evoking the terrifying image that lent its name to the site in Jerusalem where such things took place: the Valley of Hinnom — the Valley of Hell.

Most cultures have since come to the same conclusion as the writers of the Hebrew Bible: child sacrifice is beyond the realm of the sane. But the United States, the exceptional nation, has inexplicably not yet arrived at this endpoint.

The modern-day Manassehs — the politicians, gun manufacturers, and their fellow travelers who enable and encourage this enterprise — drape their death cult in the words of the Second Amendment, pretending a lofty purpose while not, we note, offering up their own children for the blood sacrifice.

In the words of Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, the constitutional right to bear arms “is not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.” Curiously unacknowledged by an organization that professes originalist textual readings, the Bible is devoid of the words “American” or “gun.” Leviticus 18:22, however, admonishes, “Do not allow any of your offspring to be offered up to Molech [the Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice], and do not profane the name of your God: I am God.”

Just as the ancient practice came with its ritualistic hallmarks, so, too, does our own follow a ceremonial pattern, from the frantic 911 calls and lockdown alerts to the sensationalist media coverage. Then comes the post-shooting NRA blood lust gathering. Then the hand-wringing politicians — the only ones with the power to do something about this — refusing to do something about this. And, ultimately, the concluding American invocation of the sacred words of the Second Amendment and the final Amen: “we offer our thoughts and prayers.”

The ancient Israelites didn’t respond to Manasseh’s reign with thoughts and prayers. Once he died, his son was assassinated and his grandson, Josiah, installed to undo the damage. In the end, the crimes of Manasseh were simply too great, having “put so many innocent persons to death that he filled Jerusalem with blood from end to end (2 Kings 16).” Jerusalem would soon be wrecked in conquest, the Israelites scattered in exile, and the sacred Temple destroyed. The people, in God’s view, having deserved to be cast off and delivered into the hands of their enemies.

Unless we, too, can overthrow our regime — of the gun manufacturers and their marketing strategies, their political puppets, the NRA and its affiliated terrorist organizations, and the very culture that worships the gun as essential to American liberty and identity — we will remain in the shadow of God’s wrath. Like Manasseh, our names are being remembered as the wicked, doomed nation that continues to worship in the Valley of Hell.

About the Author
Jason Harris is the creator and host of Jew Oughta Know, a popular podcast on Jewish and Israeli history. He has led hundreds of young adults on trips to Israel, and holds master's degrees in Jewish studies from Brandeis University. Prior to his work in the Jewish community he served as a senior staffer to a U.S. Member of Congress. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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